Degrasse State Forest
Degrasse State Forest is composed of 1,180 acres located in the town of Russell in southwestern St. Lawrence County.
There are several multiple use recreational trails available that provide access from the Nolan and Cole Roads. The property also provides large undeveloped areas well suited for hunting, hiking, and nature viewing.
This property features a canoe launch located on the South Branch of the Grasse River, as well as over 3.7 miles of frontage along the river.
The northeastern portion of this state forest is located adjacent to the Grasse River Wild Forest, part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. More information about the Grasse River Wild Forest can be found by contacting the Potsdam DEC Office.
Camping - There are no designated camp sites on this property. Backcountry camping is allowed. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited at any location within 150 feet from water, roads or trails.
Geo-caching is allowed although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations. See the February 2005 article in Conservationist Magazine for more information on geo-caching.
The topography is variable with upland areas supporting a mixture of northern hardwood, hemlock, and white pine forests. Pine and spruce plantations were established on what were formerly farm fields and pastures. Flatter ground supports open wetlands and shrub swamps, which gradually transition to swamp hardwoods and white cedar in seasonal flooded areas.
This area was damaged by severe windstorms in 2004 and 2008. In the following years, 79 acres of storm damaged timber were salvaged, yielding 83 thousand boardfeet of cherry, maple, and birch sawlogs, 228 cords of pulp, and over $43,000 in revenue.
This forest can be accessed from the Nolan and Cole Roads and St. Lawrence County Route 17 in the town of Russell.
Important Phone Numbers
Potsdam DEC Office (M-F 8 am-4:30 pm) (315) 265-3090
DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: (518) 408-5850
Tips for Using State Forests
Anyone enjoying this property must observe rules which protect both the public and the forest environment.
A 1930s photo Looking South Towards Degrasse
This forest consists of 11 separate parcels which were purchased between 1936 and 1990 for the purposes of reforestation, wildlife management, timber production, recreation, and watershed protection.
Many of the properties purchased by the state in the 1930s and early 1940s were exhausted farmland with little tree cover. The first priorities after the establishment of a state forest were to reforest the land, prevent soil erosion, and minimize the threat of wildfires.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played an active role in the early protection and development of this forest. Crews from Camp S-134 in Pierrepont accomplished the following tasks on Degrasse State Forest in 1936 and 1937:
- Planted over 896,000 trees on 606 acres, with the major species being white pine, red pine, and white spruce.
- Cleared and maintained 5.5 miles of fire line.
- Constructed 3 waterholes for fire control.
Looking South Towards Degrasse in 2011
The white pine plantation in the accompanying photos was planted by the CCC's in the fall of 1936, using 3 year old tree seedlings. Periodic improvement thinnings have been used to reduce overcrowding, improve tree vigor, and remove trees damaged by insects and disease. Portions of this stand were thinned in 1972, 1977, 1979, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1997, and 2010. In 2010 the planted trees were 77 years old and averaged 14 inches in diameter and 60 feet tall, with a total volume of 17 thousand boardfeet (MBF) of sawtimber per acre.